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New York Times, Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Author:
Andrew J. Ries
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
188/13/20076/8/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
31111542
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56020
Andrew Ries

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QVXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Ries. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
It's not often that I scratch my head, trying to figure out a puzzle's theme. Obviously JOHNNY ON THE SPOT refers to Johnny CASH, ... read more

It's not often that I scratch my head, trying to figure out a puzzle's theme. Obviously JOHNNY ON THE SPOT refers to Johnny CASH, Johnny CARSON, Johnny BENCH, Johnny ROTTEN hidden in themers. Nice that all of them are Johnnys, not Johns.

JOHNNY ROTTEN!

But what does that ON THE SPOT refer to? I spent a good 15 minutes scanning the grid, trying to see if CASH was sitting atop the word SPOT, or a type of spot, or a black square representing a spot, or something else. The clue says "literally," right? It doesn't look like there's an additional layer that I'm missing. But it feels like there should be, darn it!

Nice set of famous JOHNNYs, all four with last names that can be hidden in phrases. I liked BENCH PRESS and ROTTEN EGG a lot, and CARSON CITY is pretty good too. CASH MONEY is a real phrase, but I don't hear it that often, even working in the world of finance. I might have preferred CASH CROPS or CASH FLOWS.

Interesting selections for long fill. I hesitated in filling in FANDANGO, because I only know it as the movie ticket site. Apparently it's a Spanish dance usually accompanied by castanets. I enjoyed learning that.

As for short fill, tough to start a puzzle by hitting AMO, SEN, ADLAI, ASCAP, ALG, all in one corner. Running ONSLAUGHT through two themers does make filling more challenging, but all the glue is a high price to pay, especially when the rest of the puzzle is dotted with CEE, EDINA crossing ENERO, ADEE, UNA, HORS, etc.

KOD looks so funny, but I like it. KO'D is common enough.

There's a high theme density here, what with five long theme answers, so that explains some of the gluey bits. Perhaps I really did miss some extra layer of theme? Andrew's too good of a constructor to let all the gluey bits through without a good reason.

ADDED NOTE: In fact, I didn't spot (pun intended) the ADs, i.e. advertising spots, under the various Johnnys — I've highlighted them below. D'oh! Thanks to all who pointed this out. Makes a lot more sense now; that adds a lot of difficulty into the already theme-dense construction.

1
A
2
M
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O
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J
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A
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F
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F
8
A
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D
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R
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A
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K
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E
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S
E
N
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I
N
A
L
L
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W
O
M
A
N
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C
A
S
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H
M
O
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E
Y
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A
W
A
R
E
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A
D
L
A
I
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D
U
S
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K
Y
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T
A
M
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P
E
A
R
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C
A
R
S
O
N
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C
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T
Y
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U
T
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U
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N
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A
D
E
E
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A
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L
G
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R
A
G
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U
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O
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O
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P
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S
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J
O
H
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N
N
Y
O
N
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T
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H
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E
S
P
O
T
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A
T
T
A
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A
W
O
L
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R
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O
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M
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A
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K
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B
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N
C
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P
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A
P
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S
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E
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A
D
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C
H
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F
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K
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D
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R
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T
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G
G
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E
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O
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A
D
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C
E
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D
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T
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E
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R
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0525 ( 24,305 )
Across
1
Start of a Latin 101 conjugation : AMO
4
Eastern Mediterranean port since ancient times : JAFFA
9
"Take Care" rapper, 2012 : DRAKE
14
Sessions, e.g.: Abbr. : SEN
15
Total : INALL
16
"I am ___, hear me roar" : WOMAN
17
Dough in hand, redundantly : CASHMONEY
19
Clued in : AWARE
20
Big name in 1950s presidential campaigning : ADLAI
21
Full of shadows : DUSKY
23
Scotch topper : TAM
24
Juicy fruit : PEAR
25
State capital near Lake Tahoe : CARSONCITY
27
Course reversal : UTURN
29
Chick's tail? : ADEE
30
Class with many unknowns: Abbr. : ALG
32
Brand with "Old World Style" : RAGU
34
Klutz's utterance : OOPS
38
Person who's ready and able to help ... or a literal description of four occurrences in this puzzle : JOHNNYONTHESPOT
43
Lead-in to girl : ATTA
44
Off-base sort? : AWOL
45
School's end : EDU
46
Tomato variety : ROMA
50
Got under the skin of : IRKED
52
Gym activity that works the pectorals : BENCHPRESS
56
Quiet place to pray : APSE
59
Org. that encourages flossing : ADA
60
Many a Wall Street Journal graphic : CHART
61
Like much state fair fare : FRIED
62
Little bud : KIDDO
64
Last one in, say : ROTTENEGG
66
Calendario start : ENERO
67
Love to pieces : ADORE
68
Chowder head? : CEE
69
___ Hannah of "Blade Runner" : DARYL
70
Not so hot : TEPID
71
Sin : ERR
Down
1
Acronym on Beyoncé records : ASCAP
2
Gettysburg general : MEADE
3
Chargers' action : ONSLAUGHT
4
First name at Woodstock : JIMI
5
"I'd like to buy ___, Pat" : ANO
6
Spanish steps? : FANDANGO
7
___-de-lis : FLEUR
8
Actress Milano : ALYSSA
9
Johnson also known as "The Rock" : DWAYNE
10
Ticket info : ROW
11
Prized Italian instrument : AMATI
12
Gold standard : KARAT
13
"In the practice of tolerance, one's ___ is the best teacher": Dalai Lama : ENEMY
18
Rodgers's partner, in song : HART
22
Sent to the canvas, for short : KOD
25
Bonkers, in modern lingo : CRAY
26
Some "American Greed" subjects, for short : CEOS
28
Big coffee server : URN
30
1977 album with the hit single "Deacon Blues" : AJA
31
Great deal : LOT
33
Spanish article : UNA
35
Leaning column : OPEDPIECE
36
Mini-spacecraft : POD
37
Bad name for an anger management counselor? : STU
39
Traffic cop, for short? : NARC
40
Resealable bottle feature : TWISTTOP
41
___ d'oeuvres : HORS
42
"Benevolent" fraternity member : ELK
47
"Would ya look at that!" : OHCOOL
48
Dash abbr. : MPH
49
Genesis landing site : ARARAT
51
Get through hard work : EARN
52
Sweltered in the sun : BAKED
53
Minneapolis suburb : EDINA
54
Third-place finisher in 2000, 2004 and 2008 : NADER
55
Diminish by degrees : ERODE
57
Bob with the Silver Bullet Band : SEGER
58
Yard tool : EDGER
61
Farm store purchase : FEED
63
Wine descriptor : DRY
65
TNT part : TRI

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

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